VIRAT KOHLI: WALKING THE TALK
Date : 06-04-2014
Sunday 6th April 2014
At 25 years of age, Virat Kohli must feel as though the world is his oyster. He embodies a new India. One that is supremely confident, brash, in your face and determined to scale new heights. He is not one to back away from a challenge; instead it fuels him to left a gear.
Many cricketers have the talent, but to be successful as Kohli himself said it is much less about technique and much more about what is between the ears. ‘Cricket is played more between your ears than your technique. If you can be mentally strong then you can tell yourself to stay on at the wicket.’ It is this kind of thinking that has allowed Kohli to dominate attacks.
Over the years, Virat Kohli has quickly matured from the boy that lifted the Under-19s World Cup as captain in 2008. After lifting the under-19s World Cup, Kohli quickly shot up to fame, was given an IPL contract and soon found himself debuting for India in ODIs.
He found this transition tough and many described him as being arrogant, and not level-headed. He isn’t alone however, and many wonderfully talented cricketers over the years have found it tough to focus on the task at hand and close out the distractions.
One such cricketer who had been able to successfully keep the distractions away and still perform at the highest level for 24 years was Sachin Tendulkar. It is ironic then, that Virat Kohli is now being compared by some as having the makings of being India’s next Tendulkar. If you go by the numbers, then Kohli is well on track.
After making his ODI debut in 2008, Kohli was the fastest to score 19 centuries and 5000 ODI runs. He also has the highest conversion rate of 50s into centuries among batsmen with over 2000 runs. Tendulkar at the same age had 21 ODI centuries and 2167 more runs but had also played 78 more innings. Over the past couple of years Kohli has become India’s premier batsman with Test and ODI hundreds in Australia, Bangladesh, India, England, South Africa, New Zealand.
‘Once you start scoring runs you start believing in yourself more. That's something I try to do and try to keep myself in that zone,’ says Kohli oozing with self-belief. So far in his career at least, Kohli has managed to walk the talk. In matches that India has won in T20Is, Kohli averages 54.66 with a strike-rate of 128.12, but he truly comes into the zone when India is chasing. He has scored 496 runs at an average of 82.66 when India bats second. If there is a weakness, it is that his record when India bats first needs some improvement.
Batsmen such as Viv Richards, Lara or Tendulkar in their prime have always looked to dominate bowlers The hall-mark of a true great is their ability to stamp their authority on the match and take the best opposition bowlers out of the attack. Kohli too has this trait, as he spoke after the semi-final against South Africa: ‘Against a quality bowling attack, you need to be on top. It's important to put pressure on a world-class bowler like Dale.’ In that match, Kohli scored 18 off 9 balls against Steyn including hitting the winning boundary. Steyn meanwhile finished with his 2nd worst bowling figures in a T20I.
Virat Kohli is now the pin-up boy in India, associated with Bollywood actresses such as Anushka Sharma. Following his Semi-Final heroics, he even received a marriage proposal from Danielle Wyatt, a member of the English Womans Cricket Team with her tweet ‘Marry me Kholi’ going viral. He certainly has the passion, determination and self-belief to succeed. However he has just begun his journey. Words such as consistency and longevity are ones that you can immediately associate with Tendulkar. And like the little master, Kohli will do well to follow in his footsteps.
Virat Kohli has already been part of the Indian team that won the 2011 World Cup & the 2013 Champions Trophy. He will be determined to play a part in India lifting the World T20 Cup on Sunday and bag all three limited over trophies at the same time. They say ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man.’
Navneet Ganesh is the Founder of Infinity Cricket
He is a cricketing enthusiast and is passionate about its development and growth.
Infinity Cricket was launched in 2010 with a vision of ‘connecting people through cricket.’
Infinity Cricket organizes the largest ‘open’ T20 cricket events in Melbourne: the Summer Infinity T20 Cricket Tournament & Winter T20 Challenge.